Tag Archives: Youth Group

How to Make the Opening Night of Youth Group Awesome

The Opening night of youth group sets the tone for the rest of your year. It isn’t a deal breaker for a teen, but it does factor into their decision to come back. So what are some things you can put into your opening night that would make it awesome, special, and worthy to repeat a visit. Here are some thoughts:

static1.squarespace.comBig Game. Plan ahead to have a big game or special icebreaker to make it a unique night. I’ve heard of youth groups that do a huge food fight. I haven’t been so brave but have done the BeanBoozled Jelly Bean Challenge, Blind Volleyball, and have even tried the Watermelon Challenge this year. This was last night.

Introduce New Series. This is the perfect opportunity to get the excitement level up for the new teaching series. Show an intro video that goes along with the theme. Other ways to promote can be done through skits and homemade video productions.

Rules. This needs to be part of your routine each year. Go over rules for conduct, dress, treatment of others, and various rules that you can refer back to if there ever is an issue. Prevention is much better than confrontation.

Give-Away. This does not need to be an XBOX or THIS…but a gift card and some things around your office like candy and leftover gifts from a youth conference.  I put it all in a box and do a drawing.  It makes it more dramatic.

Time in the Word.  I made the mistake one year of not doing any time in the Word, and made it all fun and games.  Well, when some visitors came back, guess what they expected youth group to be like?  That’s right, all fun and games.  Make sure you are clear what the focus is, and that is to help these students grow in their relationship with God.

Sign-Ups For Service.  Having trouble finding volunteers for ministries?  Here is an opportunity to have sign ups for children ministries, sound team, ushers, game crew, and the list goes on.

New People.  Have a dessert or cake to celebrate the new 6th or 7th graders that have just joined your group.  This will allow them to feel welcome and hopefully want to come back.

Introduce the Leaders.  We take a few moments to recognize the leaders, celebrate the years they have been serving, and explain what they will be doing – small group leader, event leader, etc.  Also, this is an opportunity to share how much we care about them, and to let them know we are available if they ever needed to talk.

Well, those are a few highlights of our opening night.  What do you do to make your opening night special and awesome?  Feel free to comment.

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What Happens When Senior Citizens Come to Youth Group?

Bridging the generation gap in our church has always been a goal of mine.  I’m a proponent of inter-generational youth ministry.  If you don’t know what that is, then go here and read this book.  Many churches are going to the model of separation and segregation of age groups so much that the generations never interact with each other.  Do I see value in age-segregated ministries?  Absolutely.  Hello, I’m a youth pastor!  But there is real value in generations coming together, getting to know each other, and truly becoming ONE church.  But it just does not happen over night.  You need to be intentional.  Sure, there are select few older generation that will take time to get to know younger generations.  But, for many, you must have a “Field of Dreams” model of ministry –  if you build it they will come.  if_you_build_it_-_olv_mens_cu_4_1

How does this happen?  Here are few ideas:

Serve Them.  Every year, our teen ministry hosts a lunch for the senior citizens.  The sky is the limit for the theme of the lunch, and thankfully I have very creative and talented youth lady leaders (because I could only host a grilled cheese or hot dog lunch).  We have done Valentine’s Day lunches, Brunches, Tour of Italy…the themes are endless.  And so is the value of teens serving the older generation.  The teens dress up, take the seniors to their seats, take their orders, and serve them lunch.  After everyone is served, the teens then find seats next to them and have genuine conversation.  Sometimes, the conversation is guided, other times it is just natural.  Another idea:  Form a team of teens and adults to serve the elderly through the year – yard work, general house issues, etc.

Have Fun Together.  Typically, either following lunch or another time during the year, we will have an informal time of generations coming together.  I’ve hosted a “Man Day” which includes a Bible study, hearty breakfast, and man games like “Name That Tool” and “Power Drill Relay.  Other ideas include:  speed dating & board game night.

Serve Together.  Our youth group has a service project every month, and we often invite adult small groups to participate with us.  This is a great way to bring generations together, by serving together.  Often, they see how teens can be hard-working, caring, and approachable.  It breaks down walls when you are serving Christ together.

Worship Together.  Please do not make the mistake of never allowing generations to worship together.  I’m a proponent of children’s and youth ministries as much as the next guy, but it is important that the generations have opportunities to worship and hear God’s Word together over the course of the year.  Maybe consider trimming down the age of children’s church, save holidays for all-church gatherings, and do not host a youth service during main worship times.

Pray for One Another.  Before I arrived at my current church, they already had this wonderful practice in place.  The senior citizen group had a prayer sign up list of all the teens and college/young adults.  What better way to bring generations together than to pray for them.  Our teens often pray for our seniors as well.

Invite Them to Youth Group.  Last but not least, invite them to your youth group!  Sure, many youth groups have a parent night which is a great idea.  But let’s take it a step further and invite the senior citizen group to your youth group.  A friend of mine in ministry gave me this idea, and we tried it yesterday.  Judging by the picture below, how do you think it went?  Seeing the elder generation, singing, playing games, and praying with the younger generation…it was incredible.  IMG_1376[1]

Sure, we are not there yet.  But we are intentionally trying to bridge the generations together.  Praying, serving, having fun,  and worshiping together as ONE church.

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